Thursday, January 29, 2015

Walt Disney World, Part Two

I have written about the first half of my Disney trip {HERE} and you can also read about my 10k and Half Marathon on the blog as well. Today I am going to finish up with my time in Florida.

Spectating outside Animal Kingdom
Sunday was marathon day! My races were over and we were going out to watch people run a marathon. I was also excited to sleep in a few extra hours! We made a plan to go to mile 14ish right outside Animal Kingdom in time to see our friends. It was so fun to watch all the people go by and see their costumes, or just see what they looked like. It was kind of tiring just thinking about running a marathon and standing there watching it. Maybe someday. After all our friends passed, we took a bus to Hollywood Studios so that we could see them again at mile 23. 

Bryan & Sam at mile 14 looking happy! 
Brian at mile 14
After a very long and annoying bus ride to Hollywood Studios, we found Kathy's husband, Mike, who had finished his marathon very quickly! We were hanging out at our post for awhile, watching people go by, and guess who we saw?!!? PETER PAN and HIS SHADOW! And yes, the shadow was behind him! Still my favorite costume! After Peter Pan we got to see our friends again! All of whom were still looking great! We stayed until we saw the balloon ladies at the end of the pack. We then followed the end of the marathon back to the Boardwalk. of my new goals is to be a balloon lady. These ladies have balloons tied to them, you have to stay in front of them to not be swept. 

Peter Pan and His Shadow
Back at the BoardWalk we had some time to relax and get ready to go to dinner back at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Before dinner we went out to the savanna to look at the animals. During the time we stayed there it was dark, so we weren't able to see anything :) We were able to easily see gazelles, zebras, and a couple giraffes. Very cool. We went to dinner at Boma which features African inspired food. The restaurant is decorated with African animals, thatched huts, and rustic wood. The amount of food, and the choices, were enormous. Perfect for a dinner after many days of races. 

After dinner we went to Jellyrolls. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar on the boardwalk. We arrived early so we could get good seats. The piano players take requests from the audience and provide some comedic entertainment as well. Most of the requests were 80's songs! My favorite! They also threw in some Disney songs, and they did Shake It Off, which was really exciting because it reminded me of it playing during the half marathon the day before! Probably the BEST part of the night was walking home. Julie and I were disappointed they never played Let It Go, so we decided to sing it our whole way home, loudly and shamelessly. 

Monday, Kathy, Mike, Julie, and I got up to get to Epcot when it opened. We started off by using our Fast Pass for Soarin' (another ride I had never been on) and then went on Living with the Land. Soarin' was pretty cool, it's like hang gliding through California, complete with a breeze and scents. I also enjoyed seeing all the growing vegetables in Living with the Land. Next we visited Test Track...another ride that tops my list of Disney favorites. After meeting up with Sam and Bryan and tasting all the different flavors of pop in Club Cool we headed over to the World Showcase to drink around the world. 

Wine Flight in France
After much debate, some lumberjacks, and closed tequila bar, we decided to start our journey in the United Kingdom. I was really excited about my UK drink! I got a Black Velvet...Strongbow Cider with Guinness on top. I love those, but they are somewhat hard to come by. In the picture above you can see my drinks in France...a red wine flight. Not good at all. Bad move. I skipped Morocco and tasted just a little bit of someone's sake in Japan. Back in America I had some beer followed by a shot of limoncello in Italy. Once we got to Germany I decided I better have something to eat before things got ugly. All I know is that I ordered something called a Currywurst after having a debate with the German person taking my order about Currywurst actually being German. Once my food was given to me I don't think it was what I ordered. I was tricked, confused, or both. I still ate it. I also had a grapefruit beer which was really good, better than I thought it would be.

I skipped a lot of countries after that. I don't think I had anything in China or Norway, but somewhere around there I got very insistent on doing a car bomb back in the UK. Also around this time, Julie, Sam, and Bryan were supposed to be leaving for the airport. But who can go to the airport without a car bomb, especially when you have been deprived of a car bomb your whole life?!?! We raced (really raced, like we would have beat the balloon ladies if it was a marathon) back to the UK and some people had their very first car bomb. In my case, this was the car bomb that made me feel 31, not 21.
Car Bombs in the UK
Now people really needed to get to the airport. Like really. So we were back to trying to beat the balloon ladies back to the BoardWalk. We really went so was like we were training for next year's 10k :) I'm happy to report we made it back with time to spare. This is also when it started pouring down rain. It was perfect timing. After our friends boarded the Magical Express we took an intermission from Epcot and just hung out and waited for the rain to pass.

Sadly the rain never passed, but we put on some ponchos and decided to go to Beaches and Cream to get some ice cream. I ordered the No Way Jose. I love ice cream. Really. This No Way Jose, though, was humongous. There was just no way I could finish it. Now I wish I could have it. It was was so good! After our ice cream we went back to Epcot because the rain had passed. We went to the formerly closed tequila bar and I did a shot of tequila. I do not do shots of tequila. It's almost like tea. But when in Mexico... Thankfully I didn't gag and it wasn't so bad. Meanwhile, at the airport there were also shots of tequila being done since our friends never made it to Mexico.

When in Mexico...
After Mexico we went back to Italy with just a few moments to spare and ordered champagne. We drank our champagne and watched the IllumiNations fireworks show before heading back to the BoardWalk for the night. 

Tuesday was our last day in Florida :( After packing up and saying goodbye to the BoardWalk we drove over to Magic Kingdom. We used our Fast Passes for Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, with a ride on the People Mover and a visit to Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor in between! Before heading to lunch we went to see Mickey's PhilharMagic. We had a reservation at Be Our Guest inside Belle's castle for lunch, but we were a little bit early so we walked over to visit Gaston for a few minutes. Gaston is hilarious. I could have watched that ridiculousness all day. If you haven't seen the YouTube videos of Gaston, you should take a look. 

Lunch at Be Our Guest was great. They have a few different rooms that you can sit in. We chose the portrait room. After enjoying our meal we did a little shopping. I wanted a Christmas tree ornament to commemorate my trip. I am very happy with my choice. I can't wait to put it on our tree next year. Lots of happy memories. Next we went to ride Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Carribean. Pirates of the Carribean is one of my biggest memories from going to Disney when I was 5, so it was fun to be able to ride it again. After Pirates, we got in line for my first Dole Whip. A Dole Whip is pineapple soft serve (your flavor of ice cream can vary, I got a pineapple vanilla twist) and pineapple juice. Sort of like a float. SO YUM! My next recipe goal is to try to create a Dole Whip at home. Stay tuned. 

After enjoying our treat, and doing some people watching, we strolled over to It's a Small World for our last ride of the day. Small World was my very favorite ride when I was little, so I thought it was a nice ending to our trip. We followed the parade out of the park and went on our way to the Orlando Airport, sad to be ending our vacation. 

I'm sure you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Disney. I am so happy I decided to go, and I'm even happier I participated in both races. We never wasted a minute while we are there. We did so many things and had a lot of fun. I hope to go back one day for another race. Until then I will have to settle for a homemade Dole Whip :) 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Walt Disney World, Part One

It seems like so long ago I took my trip to Florida, but I wanted to make sure that I cover more than just my races! We were in Florida for six days, we went to all four Disney parks, and had lots of adventures in between. I am going to do my best at trying to recall all those things, but I probably should have wrote these posts as they were happening, not weeks later. I also wish I had more pictures to share!

My friend, and running partner, Kathy and I flew down to Orlando very early Thursday morning. After picking out the perfect rental car, we were on our way. We soon discovered that my perfect pick was not so perfect. I was thinking maybe she was having problems adjusting to driving our new ride. Turns out, the rental car had a mind of it's own. It accelerated on it's own and did the same with it's brakes. After a little looping around the Orlando airport we safely made it back and exchanged the car for one that wanted to do things Kathy's way. After that fiasco we headed over to POP to pick up her husband who was already in Florida to start the Dopey Challenge. We drove over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to try to check in, but we were too early. We did have a quick lunch there. On a side note...I really liked Animal Kingdom Lodge! The lobby is big and open and overlooks the savanna with giraffes, zebras, and lots of other animals. It also has very relaxing African music playing. I was also a little obsessed with the animal tiles, especially the elephant, in the room and the the Lion King picture in the giant bathtub. 

Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby
Next, we decided to head over to the Expo so Kathy and I could pick up our race packets. We did not spend a ton of time at the Race Expo. After we picked up our race bibs and shirts we did walk around just a little bit to look at different vendors. I'm sure that if you had serious running shopping to do, or Disney shopping, or Disney running shopping to do, this would have been the place to do it. There was a lot of stuff, and I didn't even go to half of it. 

After the Expo, we headed over to the Grand Floridian. The purpose of going to the Grand Floridian was for Afternoon Tea in the Garden View Room. I do not like tea. I wanted nothing to do with tea. Tea tastes like the Earth. I went anyway. It was part of a deal...I would go to tea, Kathy would ride Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. We were early for tea so we walked around the hotel which is very pretty and we also took a ride on the monorail. At tea, I ordered water in a tea pot with lemons :) 

We ended Thursday at Target collecting things for breakfast and snacks. After setting up my stuff for my race the next morning, I was beyond ready to go to sleep. A few hours later we were up for the 10k buses. You can read my recap of my 10k race {HERE}. 

After our race we headed back to Animal Kingdom Lodge to shower and check out. We decided to go to Animal Kingdom for a few hours in the afternoon. My favorite part of the park was the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. Our safari ride was awesome. We saw a ton of animals and a lot of them were SO close. We even saw lots of elephants! My favorite!

This giraffe walked right in front of our safari car and then right next to me. 
After our afternoon at Animal Kingdom, we drove to the Boardwalk. This is where we stayed for the remainder of our Disney trip. After checking in and exploring the hotel we had an easy dinner at the Boardwalk Bakery. Like Animal Kingdom Lodge, the BoardWalk Inn was awesome. I liked how you kind of felt like you were at the beach since it's on the water, and of course there is a boardwalk. After staying at Animal Kingdom which has a dark and woodsy theme, the BoardWalk also seemed really light and airy. I also loved how you could walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. 

Saturday's main event was, of course, the half marathon. You can read about it {HERE}. After the half marathon we made our way back to the Boardwalk with plans to go to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon. Our time at Hollywood Studios has a lot of highlights for me. 

We had fast passes for Toy Story Mania, which I had never been on, and Tower of Terror, one of my favorite rides at Disney. We had also had a reservation for a late lunch at the Brown Derby. We had some time in between our rides and our lunch reservation so we sat down on a bench. This turned out to be a great choice! After a few minutes I heard some really loud and obnoxious people down the street. They were Disney people dressed as old time movie stars carrying a bottle of 'vodka' and some martini glasses. They sat down on a bench in our view and continued their loud and obnoxious act. These people were so funny. They made fun of people who walked by while acting drunk and sliding off the bench. I could have watched them all day. As that was happening another duo (another movie star person and a police officer) drove up to us and started their own act. They were asking us all kinds of questions and telling us stories. Seriously, so funny!

After a great lunch, it was time for Kathy to hold up her end of our deal. Rock 'n' Roller Coaster! This is another one of my favorite rides at Disney. We had no fast pass for this and the wait was 70 minutes. My Disney expert friend was not pleased, apparently she has NEVER waited that long for something at Disney, but a deal is a deal :) I'm glad to report everyone survived! And maybe even had fun! 

Another great part about Saturday was that our friend Julie came! We met Julie, Sam and Bryan (more Dopey challenge friends) for dinner back at the Boardwalk. I wasn't the hungriest after our late lunch, but I did get a snack from what I fondly referred to as "the drunk food cart" on the Boardwalk. Basically they just have a lot of fried junk food. I was excited to eat it! 

After dinner we made a spectating plan for the marathon the next morning and just hung out. I was so excited to not have a race to worry about the next morning, and to be able to sleep in a few extra hours. In my next post you will read all about our spectating and the second half of my trip! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Starting line with fireworks
Next up in my series of Florida recaps is my Walt Disney World Half Marathon experience. This was most definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. So was my 10k race that I blogged about earlier this week, but overall the half marathon was even more exciting! The non-exciting part...the middle of the night wake up call that comes along with Disney races. I believe this day I work up at 2:53 in the morning, making it the third day in a row I was up by three. After throwing on my race clothes, along with some throw away clothes, and making some breakfast we boarded the bus to the starting corrals. 

After checking our bags and finding some additional Virginia friends we made the long walk to the start. I'm not really sure why they make you walk miles to your corral before they have you start a half marathon, but they do. On our way to our corral this day we spotted the BEST costume EVER. A lot of people come dressed as Disney characters. There are some really dedicated friends that put some work into these costumes too. My absolute favorite was this guy dressed as Peter Pan and then there was a guy with him completely covered in black. HIS SHADOW! So funny! As my friend and I were walking to our corral we wondered if the shadow would run behind him the whole time. 

Peter Pan and his shadow
Once we made it to our corral we still had waiting to do since there were a bunch on corrals in front of us. With every corral that started there were fireworks that went off. I was thankful when we started approaching the start. I was ready to start so that I could warm up. As our corral's fireworks went off we started running. Like the 10k, the half marathon starts off on highways outside the Disney parks. There is some entertainment the first few miles, but not much. There were some marching bands and volunteers cheering, and big screen playing some disney cartoons. Somewhere around mile two or three we were on an off ramp of the highway. This was terrible. Your legs are uneven and everyone is cramped together. I was not a happy person. Thankfully it felt like it ended quickly. Once we were back on normal ground we saw the pirates and their pirate ship and passed the Walt Disney World Speedway around mile four. 
Mile Four-ish!

I was excited about making it to mile four because we knew our friend Julie would be cheering around there. Races are so much more fun with spectators, especially ones you know. I was so excited to see her face when we found her! So exciting! She quickly snapped our picture and we were off again. 

We were now headed toward the Magic Kingdom. I was excited to get to this part because it would actually feel like we were running at Disney instead of just on highways. We ran down Main Street where there were tons of people cheering. That was a pretty fun part. From Main Street we went into Tomorrowland. We ran past Space Mountain, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Buzz Lightyear, and the Tomorrowland Speedway. Next we got to run through Cinderella's castle. I think Elsa was there and I think she was making snow. It was very crowded and hard to look to really see. After coming through the castle we stopped to take our picture in front of the castle. After our quick picture we ran through Frontierland. This is where my friend and I separated for a little bit. I went ahead of her until I saw the 10k split mat and a water stop. After I ran through those, and was about to exit the Magic Kingdom by Splash Mountain, I waited for a quick minute for her to catch up. People were very concerned about my stopping, but I reassured everyone I was going to make it. 

After exiting the Magic Kingdom things get a little crowded. There are a lot of people in a little space. This was annoying, but also one of the highlights of my race. They were playing some music over big speakers. The song that was playing was Taylor Swift's Shake It Off. I sing all the time in my car, sometimes I sing to my running partner. That day I sang to all my crowded friends. Some people even joined me, and some other people danced while running. It made a more annoying part of the race much more enjoyable for me. Miles eight and nine are back on the highway and you pass The Grand Floridian and The Polynesian resorts. There was also a wedding singer on the side of the road. This part of the course had some people cheering as well. 

Everything was going just great during the race. The weather was pretty perfect, I felt mostly good physically, I was having fun, Kathy was great. Then came mile 10. I got mental. Really. My hip was hurting and there was this ramp. Similar to the early slanted ramp from around mile two, but this was also uphill. I was starting to lose it. I remember being mad at myself for not being able to get my mental game back together. On this ramp there is also a green army guy from Toy Story yelling at people, and making them do push ups. Not humane. Seriously. We finally made it to the top of the incline and ran the downhill, but I was upset with myself still. I struggled through mile eleven too. I knew I must have been looking pretty mental when Kathy started singing to me. Not something that would normally happen. I was grateful to have such a fabulous running partner. Mile 11 also included our last uphill which was also that stupid slanted ramp business. After reaching the top and being able to run down it, I felt SO MUCH BETTER. That might have also had something to do with the fact we were now at mile twelve. Only a little over one mile left. 

Mile 12
Kathy's husband was waiting for her at mile twelve. He had already completed his own half marathon much earlier. Mile twelve also leads you into Epcot. This is another exciting section since you are actually feeling like you are in Disney. This time entering Epcot we were right by Spaceship Earth which was a little confusing for me since that's also where you finish. I decided not too think to hard about it and just keep moving. I had a goal for this race. Well really I had like a multi-level goal for this race. I really wanted to beat my Pittsburgh half time, which was very possible but I was worried about crowds. I knew the whole race that we were doing OK and would beat it. As a second part of that goal, I also wanted to be under a certain time and knew pretty much the whole race we would be, but I was also getting mental about that during my break from reality a mile earlier. So once we were nearing the end I just wanted to keep running. That, plus there was a lot of professional photographers and I always like to look like I'm having the time of my life when they are around. 

Just before the finish line we saw the Gospel Choir singing. That was fun! After we turned the corner we could see the finish just like the day before. It was definitely a better feeling this day, though. I was very excited that I beat my Pittsburgh time by almost 15 minutes and had met my goal for the race. After crossing the finish line and collecting my medal we went to get ice. I needed some for my hip. This was quite the adventure. When they wrap ice on your hip, things get interesting. I looked like I had a saran wrap thong. 

Post race complete with beverages, medal, and saran wrap thong
Just like the 10k, I thought this race was awesome. Obviously I had a rough two miles, but they really weren't totally terrible. I was a little disappointed in the lack of entertainment along the course, but at the same time that's not really what completing a half marathon is about (to me at least). Mostly I am sad that my half marathon is over, and that I am not going to Florida for the Princess race in February. I need to win the lottery and just run fun races all the time. That would be the life.

Half Marathon medals

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Walt Disney World 10K

Friends, it's been forever! I have been so, so busy this month. First, getting home from NYC, then going back to school for a whirlwind three days, during which I wrecked my car in our first snowfall. Soon after that I was off to Orlando for six days for my races (and some fun vacationing), and most recently I have been playing catch up on school and life. I can't tell you how great my sleep was this weekend. It really felt like the first time in weeks! Apparently it wasn't enough because I was thinking I would be posting this on a Monday (like Marathon Monday), but really it's Tuesday. In any event, today I will be recapping the Walt Disney World 10K that I did on January 9th!

In all my Marathon Monday posts I never really mentioned that I was doing the Disney 10K because my bigger goal was the half marathon. When I originally half decided I was going to Florida this year I had only registered for the 10K. I wasn't for sure that I would end up going, so I decided the 10K was very doable if training didn't go well and it was a lot less money to lose out on if I didn't end up making the trip. I am happy I registered for this originally. I hadn't ever done an official 10K before, only lots of six milers in training, but 10K is just a great distance.

Virginia Friends
The Disney races start very early. We had to get on the bus at 3:30 in the morning! This means I had to get up at 3:03! This was the second in a string of mornings I was up by 3:00 and had gone to bed late. There was no rest in Florida. The bus drove us from Animal Kingdom Lodge, where we were staying, to the parking lot of Epcot where the starting corrals were. While we were waiting, we found some of our other Virginian friends and tried to stay warm. This included wearing a stained sweater and a garbage bag.

After waiting for the first few corrals to start it was finally our turn. A little over half of the race takes place outside of the parks, through a parking lot and on highway. The first mile or so was nice and open and we ran into Elsa who was on a bridge above us blowing snow and playing Let It Go. The next two miles were a little bit crowded, but not as crowded as I had prepared myself for. There are a lot of people that do the Disney races, so I was worried I would be getting run over, or that I wouldn't be able to move around. There was only one really crowded time I wanted to throw down on a lady dressed in full firefighter gear. I got over it quickly. The good news is that my friend and I decided to take it easy for the 10K and save our legs for the half the next day. I think this decision made it so much more enjoyable. It was kind of like we were just hanging out, doing a 10K.

The last three-ish miles are through Epcot and the Boardwalk area. It was so much more fun to be able to do this part of the race. It was still kind of dark when we entered the World Showcase part of the park. All the countries were lit up and Spaceship Earth was glowing :) There was also some music playing. This was probably my favorite part of the course. After the World Showcase we crossed over to the Boardwalk. I couldn't believe how quickly the race was going. I decided to stop at mile marker 5 for a picture with Nemo. There were some spots for photos with characters throughout the race, but they were always so busy. This was one of the only non-busy mile markers. Plus it was on the sand so I decided to stop.

Mile 5
After Nemo we only had a little over a mile left. We soon crossed back over into Epcot, ran across the park, around Spaceship Earth, saw some large Little Mermaid puppets, then turned the corner and saw the finish line. I collected my medal and my snacks. It was super fun to complete my first Disney race. Like I said I was really liking the 10K distance and our approach to the race. The first three miles could have been a little more exciting entertainment wise. Overall, though I really liked this race! I'm excited to tell you all about my half marathon experience next. Stay tuned.
Finish Line
Walt Disney World 10K medals

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Big Apple

Each year, the first weekend in January, Matt's work has an annual meeting. This is not the most wonderful time of the year, especially for Matt. It makes for very stressful holidays. For me, though, I usually get to capitalize on a free hotel room in a major city. This year's meeting was held in New York City. Having only been to NYC once in my entire life, I was really lobbying to go with Matt. After some debate, I found a decent deal on train tickets and booked my trip. I was also really excited because this was my first ever time riding on a train. The train ride there left a little bit to be desired, but still a pretty good trip considering the easiness of it. We got the train only about 10 minutes from our house and it delivered us to Penn Station in the middle of Manhattan. I got the train home at Penn Station again and it left me off close to home again. The ride home had Wi-Fi. So great. I did my CPR certification for my license renewal, wrote this blog post, got ready to return to work. So productive.

Moving on from the train experience...I took it pretty easy in New York. A few years ago, Matt and I spent Memorial Day weekend in NYC and literally did not stop the entire weekend. We did every touristy thing available and it was exhausting. This time, I had no plans. I was also going to be doing anything I did plan by myself. We arrived on New Year's Day around 2:30. We walked to our hotel from the train station. Dragging a suitcase through Times Square was quite an experience. We got to see the remnants of the mayhem from the night before...mostly just a lot of confetti and police barricades. That night we just went to a staff party for Matt's work. After that was over I walked a block over to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. It's huge! And very pretty!

Friday I decided that the weather wasn't looking so great for the weekend so I decided to do my last 6 miler in Central Park that morning. I was a little nervous about the whole thing. Unfamiliar territory, big city, usual running worries, etc. It turned out to be a super easy thing to do logistically. You can read about it in my Marathon Monday post from this week. This is up there with one of my favorite things I did in NYC.

After my run, I met up with an old friend from my Summer Study days for lunch. We went to have Greek food in Hell's Kitchen at Uncle Nick's Greek Cuisine. It was really nice to catch up and get some advice on what else I should do while visiting the city. That afternoon I just took it easy and researched some Broadway shows. Matt and I went to dinner at a place called Becco. After deciding we would eat there last week, we realized it was a sister restaurant to one of the place we like in Pittsburgh. So weird. The food was pretty good. We both ordered the table side pasta.

Saturday I decided I would investigate entering the lottery for the Book of Mormon on Broadway. This was quite an experience. I knew the chances would be slim, but I decided to take a shot at it anyway. You have to arrive 2.5 hours before the show to put your name in a big bucket. If you are pulled you can buy one or two front row, center seats for only $32. Since I was by myself, I looked for someone else who was alone and asked them to partner with me. She agreed, so we could double our chances. We didn't get the lottery for the 2:00 show, but we decided we would try again for the 8:00.

In the meantime, I decided to take the train downtown to visit the 9/11 Museum. Just as I was walking to get the train it started snowing. By the time I got downtown it was an awful mix of rain/snow/sleet/ice. I proceeded to wait for over an hour outside, in line to get inside. If I didn't have an umbrella it would have been miserable. Once inside, though, the museum is completely worth it! I LOVED it. This is also kind of a big deal coming from me. I NEVER LOVE museums. Sometimes I really like them, but never love. I really could have spent so much time there. There's so many things to listen to and read, and it's just so relatable. All the mementos of people's loved ones, stories of the day, pictures, news clips, etc. It's so well done.

My favorite parts were the exhibits in memorial hall and the timeline of the day. In the memorial hall they have a picture of each person who was killed on the walls. In the center you can view a projection wall where each person is featured and has a loved one speaking about what they were like. Also in there are things that were valuable to each person that were either found in the rubble and donated, or were just donated by the families to have their person remembered. In the timeline of the day you walk through everything. There are different artifacts that were found, pictures taken, personal accounts, so many things you can't even imagine. This was by far the most crowded part of the museum, so it was very difficult to see everything. You could go into these little rooms and hear people tell about what it was like to be in the towers and walking down the stairs, or being trapped in their offices, seeing firefighters they knew were walking to their deaths. I could have listened to the stories all day. I think the reason I enjoyed the museum so much is because it's something I can remember during my own lifetime and it's so focused around the people directly impacted by 9/11, and I just love people and their stories.

I left the museum in time to make it back to the night lottery for Book of Mormon. I met my morning friend and we didn't get chosen again, but that's OK because I was pretty wet from the weather and pretty tired. Matt and I just decided to get some pizza and watch the Steeler game in our hotel room. Sunday morning I quickly used the treadmill in our hotel before making my way to Penn Station to head home. I would say my trip was a perfect balance of relaxation to end a wonderful winter break, and exciting activities to make the most of my time in NYC.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Marathon Monday

This week was weird. It was sort of productive, yet not. And also slightly painful. Not my favorite. I saved my long run to do on Monday since we were still on break from school. Within the first quarter mile I could tell that something was wrong with my foot. I was also just feeling a little sick. Not a good combination. I stopped to try to fix my foot, and it seemed OK so I went on. I decided very quickly that I would have a distance only goal that day, I wouldn't care about my pace. I was also worried about not being able to make it the full eight miles I had planned because of my foot so I did a lot of loops to stay close to my house. Thankfully, I did all eight miles, even if it was a little slower than usual.

After the eight miles I was really regretting things. My foot was not good and got progressively worse over the next couple days. I was in a little bit of a panic. I decided to take it easy the rest of the week. I did notice that my foot and walking was way better when wearing shoes. I took the rest of the week off from training until Friday.

Friday while I was in New York City, I decided that the weather wasn't looking so great for the weekend so I decided to do my last six miler in Central Park that morning. I was a little nervous about the whole thing, but at the same time I so wanted to do it. I knew I would regret it if I didn't. I was worried about the unfamiliar territory, big city, usual running problems, my foot, etc. It turned out to be a super easy thing to do logistically. I was happy for that. I was not happy about how surprisingly hilly the route was. It was still really cool, despite the hills, to run through the park. I started at the south end running clockwise on the Outer Park Drive Loop up the east side's rolling hills, past the reservoir and then up Harlem Hill. I had read about how steep Harlem Hill was, and it was, but after the reviews I was expecting much worse. I also thought the endless rolling hills of the east side and one or two of the bigger hills on the west side seemed worse. Still, I can't believe how hilly Central Park is. I just thought a park in the middle of the biggest city would be flat. Wrong. The second half of my run was down the west side. I looked at all the museums and also got another nice view of the reservoir. Toward the end I was ready to be done. I was pretty excited about finishing with a decent pace, especially with all the hills and the reviews I read warning people to expect a slower time than their typical pace. So my two runs this week total 14.22 miles. Not as many as I had hoped, but still OK considering I was a little hurt and traveling.

GREAT NEWS! This is the LAST Monday before my race!!!! I have been counting down until the Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, but I have hardly mentioned that I am also doing the Disney 10k on Friday. So this weekend I will do 19.3 miles in two days. I hope to live. ONLY 4 days!!!!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, friends! We are spending the first days of 2015 in New York City. Last night Matt and I stayed home and quietly rocked in the new year. We packed for our trip, watched The Wolf of Wall Street, and at midnight went through our bean pot. I think this might be my very favorite tradition that we have started on our own. Throughout the year we wrote down funny or happy things that have happened to us on little scraps of paper and dropped them in the pot. We do it independently, so neither off us know what each other puts in there. And a lot of the times we don't even remember what we wrote. It's fun! I suggest you try it for 2015!